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Brazil, Argentina and Colombia Lead Biofuel Production in the Region

United Nations agency studied the opportunities and risks of developing these products in Latin America and the Caribbean.

29 March 2011|Press Release


Foto: Lucy Nieto, Flickr

(29 March 2011) Brazil, Argentina and Colombia are the only Latin American countries amongst the world's main producers of bioethanol and biodiesel, according to data from the latest biofuels study published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Biofuels can be made using a wide range of crop and forestry products. Since 2000, worldwide biofuel production has grown at an annual rate of 10%, reaching 90.187 billion litres in 2009.

Of this total, 82% corresponds to bioethanol and 18% to biodiesel, according to Economics of biofuels 2010: issues relevant to Latin America and the Caribbean (only Spanish version).

Brazil is the world's second largest producer of bioethanol, representing 33.2% of the market share, behind the 54.7% represented by the United States (2009 data). Colombia is the tenth largest producer, with 0.4%.

Argentina is the world's second largest producer of biodiesel, with 13.1% of the market share, also behind the United States (with its market share of 14.3%). Brazil is in fifth place, with 9.7% of market share.

The ECLAC study examines countries' policies and regulations of biofuels, associated risks and the links with the environment and food security.

According to the document: "Nowadays, most of the world's countries (including those in Latin America and the Caribbean) have some kind of policy or instrument to promote their development".

Before undertaking biofuel production, however, the study states that governments must carry out an in-depth analysis into their potential and identify possible environmental and social impacts, as well as the links with food security.

This week, ECLAC also launched two other studies that update the information available on the development of biofuels in the region.

One of the studies is a Comparative analysis of patents in the production chain of biofuels between Latin America and the rest of the world (only Spanish version), and describes the region's position in terms of global biofuel development and innovation, as well as its level of medium- and long-term competitiveness.

According to the study, with the exception of Brazil, "Latin America accounts for a very small share of patents relating to the biofuel production chain".

ECLAC also presented the document Policies and capacities for research and development and innovation (R&D&I) for biofuel development in Latin America and the Caribbean (only Spanish version), which identifies the technological competencies and research and development efforts deployed by the relevant countries.

The three studies were launched in the framework of the "Dialogue on policies for institutional development and innovation in biofuels in Latin America and the Caribbean", which was held on Monday and Tuesday at the ECLAC headquarters in Santiago.

The seminar was organized in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with the sponsorship of the German Cooperation Agency.

Final versions of the texts will be published in May, and will include contributions from those attending the seminar, who included experts and government officials from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Spain.


Source: ECLAC, based on Brown, 2011.



Source: ECLAC, based on Brown, 2011.

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